Here’s a complete point spread betting overview. Learn all about point spread betting, how to bet point spreads, and how game results determine a winner. Watch our helpful video or review our detailed text point spread tutorial below. Our live point spread example explains possible outcomes of an upcoming matchup.

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## What is a Point Spread Bet?

A point spread attempts to equalize two mismatched competitors. Favorite teams give points to the underdog. The underdog takes points from the favorite.

Have you ever spotted a friend 5 points in a pickup basketball game? That’s a point spread. You, the favorite, start the game down 5 points, while your friend the underdog is ahead 5. If you win outright, you’ve covered the spread. You made up the 5 point deficit.

## How do Point Spread bets win or lose?

A bet on the favorite wins if the final score difference is greater than the spread. A -3 point favorite must win by 4 or more for your bet to win.

An underdog bet wins if the final score difference is less than the spread. A +5 point underdog must win outright, tie, or not lose by more than 4 points.

## When do Point Spread bets tie or push?

Point spread bets tie or “push” when the final score difference equals the spread. For example, if the spread is -7 points and the final score difference is 7, all bets push. The sportsbook will refund your bet.

Half-point spreads like -2.5 or -6.5 cannot tie. The final score difference will determine either a favorite or an underdog winner. For example, if a -2.5 favorite wins by 3 points, your favorite bet will win. However, if a +6.5 underdog loses by 6 or fewer, or ties, your underdog bet will lose.

## How to Bet on a Point Spread

The following steps explain how to place a point spread bet.

Time needed: 1 minute

How to Bet on a Point Spread

1. Review the line and odds

Review the point spread line and odds for each side. Assume -110 when no odds are given.

2. Choose the favorite or underdog

Decide whether to take the favorite or underdog.

3. Whole number point spread lines can push

Remember, the bet pushes or ties if the final score difference equals the point spread. This can only happen with whole number point spreads like 2, 3, 4, or 7.

The underdog wins if they win outright, tie the favorite, or lose by a margin less than the point spread. The favorite wins if they win by a margin greater than the point spread.

5. Your bet ties or pushes if the winning margin equals the point spread

Your bet pushes and will be refunded if the winning margin equals the point spread. For example, a bet on a -3 favorite who wins by exactly 3 points would push.

## What Do Point Spread Odds Numbers Mean?

The odds next to the point spread indicate the bet’s risk and win amounts. The sportsbook wants to balance its action. It will frequently change the point spread and odds values to encourage betting on one side more than the other.

### Minus Odds Numbers

A minus number indicates how much you risk to win \$100. -110 odds mean you risk \$110 to win \$100.

### Plus Odds Numbers

A plus number indicates how you win if you risk \$100. +120 odds mean you win \$120 for risking \$100.

PK stands for “Pick’em”. It means the point spread line is 0. The point spread becomes a moneyline wager with the odds indicating risk and win amounts for each side.

SportsBetting3.com’s article “How to Read NFL Odds” discusses how to read betting odds in detail.

## NFL Odds Example

NFL Odds and Outcomes Explained

Game
BetMGM
Bet
Eagles
Patriots
8/15/24 7:00pm EDT
+2.5 -110-2.5 -110
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Underdog Philadelphia Eagles - Philadelphia Eagles bettors risk \$100 to win \$90.91 at -110 odds.

A +2.5 Philadelphia Eagles underdog bet wins if they lose by 2 or fewer, tie, or win outright. Your bet loses if they lose by 3 or more.

Favorite New England Patriots - New England Patriots bettors risk \$100 to win \$90.91 at -110 odds.

A -2.5 New England Patriots favorite bet wins if they win by 3 or more. Your bet loses if they win by 2 or fewer, tie, or lose outright.

## NBA Odds Example

NBA Odds and Outcomes Explained

Game
BetMGM
Bet
Spurs
Knicks
12/25/24 12:00pm EST
+9.5 -110-9.5 -110
Bet \$100 at BetMGM Virginia
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Underdog San Antonio Spurs - San Antonio Spurs bettors risk \$100 to win \$90.91 at -110 odds.

A +9.5 San Antonio Spurs underdog bet wins if they lose by 9 or fewer, tie, or win outright. Your bet loses if they lose by 10 or more.

Favorite New York Knicks - New York Knicks bettors risk \$100 to win \$90.91 at -110 odds.

A -9.5 New York Knicks favorite bet wins if they win by 10 or more. Your bet loses if they win by 9 or fewer, tie, or lose outright.

The following explains how example point spread bets win, lose or tie.

Chicago -2.5 -115
Miami +2.5 -105

Chicago is the -2.5 favorite. Risk \$115 to win \$100 on Chicago. Miami is the +2.5 underdog. Risk \$105 to win \$100 on Miami. The half-point spread means either the favorite or underdog will win. No tie or push is possible.

1. Chicago wins the game 23-20.
2. The 3 point score difference is greater than 2.5. Favorite bettors win.
3. The sportsbook pays Chicago bettors \$100 for risking \$115.

### Tie Point Spread Bet Example

The following explains what happens when a result ties the point spread.

Cleveland -6 -102
Orlando +6 -118

Cleveland is the -6 point favorite. Favorite bettors risk \$102 to win \$100 on Cleveland. Orlando is the +6 point underdog. Underdog bettors risk \$118 to win \$100 on Orlando.

1. Cleveland wins the game 120-114.
2. The 6 point score difference ties or equals the 6 point spread.
3. All bets push. Neither team covers the spread.
4. The sportsbook grades the result “no action” and refunds all bets.

### NHL Puck Lines, MLB Run Lines, Soccer Goal Lines

Hockey Puck Lines, MLB Run Lines and Soccer Goal Lines work like point spread bets, except the spread values will be much smaller and quoted in the sport’s respective scoring label.

Favorites win if the final score difference is greater than the line.

Underdogs win if the final score difference is less than the line.

There are no ties unless bet is graded no action. Moneyline odds are assigned to each team’s line.

Plus numbers indicate how much you win for risking \$100.
Minus numbers indicate how much you risk to win \$100.

Puck Line, Run Line, and Goal Line bets are considered secondary to moneyline bets for NHL, MLB, and soccer betting. These lines often take longer to post than game moneylines.

## Pros And Cons

Pros

• Point Spreads are available for football, basketball, hockey, soccer and baseball. Most sportsbooks will have lines for top leagues in the USA, Canada and Europe.
• Can be less expensive than betting the money line. It’s harder to make a bad bet at +100 to -120 odds. Some money lines cost -250 or more.
• Point Spread Betting rewards accuracy. The bettor doesn’t have to pick the straight up winner. The spread levels the playing field between two unevenly matched teams.
• Spread betting odds is usually less than other bets. -110 is most common.

Cons

• Spread betting isn’t always the best value. A small underdog could win outright. In this case, a successful money line bet would pay more than a spread bet.
• Point spreads are subject to change as the betting market evolves. Your bet’s value will vary with these numbers. Carefully monitor line changes.
• Taking the public favorite offers limited value. Sportsbooks profit most from these wagers. Consider betting the favorite in other ways.

## Tips

### Shop Numbers to Find Value

Compare numbers to find value. Shop spread and odds numbers at different sportsbooks. One sportsbook may have a better spread. Another may charge less juice.

Shop lines to avoid ties when the spread is a key number. See NFL and NBA key numbers below. Ties unnecessarily lockup bankroll.

Example: Suppose Book 1 has an NFL underdog +7 -108. Book 2 has the same underdog +7.5 -110. Book 2’s bet is more expensive but less likely to tie. It’s a better opportunity.

### Handicap Each Side

Analyze current football and basketball ATS Trends and Stats. See our table below for a complete list of websites with NFL, NCAAFB, NBA and NCAABB data.

Fade public favorites against the spread. Use this website to track betting activity.

Bet the favorite against the spread when the money line is too expensive. Money line bets > -220 may not be a good value.

Be wary of road favorites. Never discount an underdog’s homefield advantage. According to Covers.com data, some 51% road favorites won ATS vs. 52% home favorites. Make sure you have good reasons for taking these teams besides their favored status.

### Buy ½ points to Avoid Pushes

Buy ½ points to avoid ties (push bets) only if you can remain profitable. Sometimes the increased juice is not worth the risk. Half points typically cost another 10 cents with some exceptions for lines crossing key numbers. These purchases may cost up to 25 cents.

## Bets to Try

1. Teaser Bet – Use the Teaser Bet to move spread and total lines in your favor. Buy points in exchange for a lower payout.
2. Pleaser Bet – Use the Pleaser Bet to move the spread in the sportsbook’s favor in exchange for a higher payout.
3. Parlay Bet – Combine multiple spread bets. All bets must win ATS for the parlay to win. See sportsbook’s parlay card to calculate potential payout.
4. If Bet Win Only – Make multiple spread bets when you only have money for one. Next bet sees action if previous one wins.
5. Reverse Bet – A double action If Bet. Make multiple spread bets when you only have money for one. Next one sees action if previous one wins, ties or is cancelled for any reason.
6. College Basketball 1st half correlated parlay – Look for large spread to small total ratio. 25% correlation is ideal. Read more here. Football correlated parlays are rare and most sportsbooks prohibit them.

Prof. Charles Kline McNeil created point spread betting combining ideas from other bookmakers. He later popularized it in Chicago during the early 1940s.

McNeil completed a master’s degree at the University of Chicago, later teaching in New York and Connecticut. He was both an avid and successful gambler, eventually opening his own bookmaking shop in the 1940s. His bold decision was the result of another bookie limiting his action.

McNeil’s spread betting invention changed the way people gambled on sports. Spread bets are placed on the expected difference in score. This concept contrasted with money line betting. These bets are placed on the probability of a result.

Prof. McNeil’s ingenuity is responsible for one of the most important sports gambling concepts in history.

Point Spreads became common fare at Las Vegas and New Jersey sports books coinciding with the rise of large scale gambling operations in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Today all sportsbook operations – both onshore and offshore – offer spread betting.

## Other Names

• Betting the favorite or underdog
• Side Betting

## Similar Bets

• Teaser Bet
• If Bet Win Only
• Reverse Bet
• Total Bet

## Tables and Reference

### NFL Point Spread Winning Margins

Margin Games % of Games
3 Points102815.58%
7 Points5778.74%
10 Points4016.08%
4 Points3595.44%
6 Points3585.43%
14 Points3174.80%
1 Points2644.00%
17 Points2473.74%
2 Points2453.71%
13 Points2083.15%
5 Points2053.11%
8 Points1972.99%
11 Points1892.86%
21 Points1812.74%
20 Points1492.26%
24 Points1452.20%
18 Points1372.08%
16 Points1241.88%
28 Points1121.70%
12 Points1101.67%
9 Points1081.64%
15 Points1071.62%
27 Points1071.62%
19 Points801.21%
31 Points791.20%
23 Points751.14%
22 Points701.06%
25 Points701.06%
34 Points440.67%
26 Points430.65%
35 Points410.62%
38 Points340.52%
30 Points330.50%
32 Points310.47%
29 Points300.45%
37 Points170.26%
33 Points130.20%
41 Points110.17%
36 Points90.14%
45 Points80.12%
42 Points70.11%
39 Points50.08%
40 Points50.08%
43 Points40.06%
44 Points30.05%
46 Points20.03%
48 Points20.03%
49 Points20.03%
51 Points10.02%
52 Points10.02%
54 Points10.02%
55 Points10.02%
58 Points10.02%
59 Points10.02%

### NBA Point Spread Winning Margins

Margin Games % of Games
717166.62%
516916.52%
616516.37%
815866.12%
215075.81%
415065.81%
314945.76%
914905.74%
1013265.11%
1112294.74%
1210904.20%
110584.08%
139783.77%
148383.23%
157662.95%
167152.76%
30+6252.41%
176242.41%
185722.21%
194801.85%
204671.80%
214371.68%
223741.44%
243081.19%
232891.11%
252651.02%
262340.90%
271810.70%
281570.61%
291550.60%
301270.49%

### How to Calculate the Opposite Line’s Odds

How to Calculate Opposite Side’s Odds
OddsCalculationExample
Odds -101 to -109
1. Drop – sign.
2. Subtract value from 110.
4. – sign for opposite odds.
1. -107 becomes 107.
2. 110 – 107 = 3.
3. 100 + 3 = 103.
4. -103 is opposite line’s odds.
Odds -110 to -119
1. Drop – sign.
2. Subtract 110 from value.
4. Difference is opposite line’s odds.
1. -118 becomes 118.
2. 118 – 110 = 8.
3. -110 + 8 = -102
4. -102 is opposite line’s odds.
Odds -120 or more
Less Common
1. Drop – sign.
2. Subtract 110 from value.
4. Difference is opposite line’s odds.
1. -125 becomes 125.
2. 125 – 110 = 15.
3. 90 + 15 = +105
4. +105 is opposite line’s odds.

## FAQs on Point Spread Betting

Which team is the point spread underdog?

The underdog has a + sign next to its point spread line.

Which team is the point spread favorite?

The favorite has a – sign next to its point spread line.

What happens if the score difference ties the spread?

All point spread bets push or tie. The sportsbook will refund your bet.

When to bet the point spread vs the moneyline?

Bet the point spread when the moneyline favorite is expensive and if the favorite can cover the spread. The point spread will be a cheaper bet.

When to bet the underdog moneyline?

Bet the moneyline underdog when you’re confident they can win outright. The moneyline will be a more profitable bet.

What does -110 odds mean?

-110 odds means you risk \$110 to win \$100. -110 is standard betting odds.

What does a PK point spread mean?

PK stands for “pick ’em”. It means the point spread line is 0. A point spread with a PK line becomes a moneyline bet. The odds indicate each side’s risk and win amounts.

How does the favorite cover the spread?

The favorite covers the spread when their winning margin is greater than the point spread line. A -7.5 pt favorite must win by 8 or more to cover.

How does the underdog cover the spread?

The underdog covers the spread when their losing margin is less than the point spread line. A +6.5 pt underdog must win outright or not lose by more than 6 points.

## Sports Betting Resources

• How to Read Sports Betting Odds – Our helpful tutorial explains what the numbers mean for point spread, moneyline, total, and Asian Handicap bets.
• Sports Betting Questions and Answers – Common sports betting questions and answers, a simple quick reference for beginners.
• Sports Betting vs Casino Gambling – Learn how sportsbooks and casinos make money, and the important differences between each business model.
• How to Read NFL Odds – Short and sweet guide to NFL point spreads, totals, and moneylines. We’ve got live example bets from upcoming NFL matchups.
• Point Spread Bet – Understanding the point spread is key to betting on football and basketball. Learn how the point spread bet works with our tutorial video and text.
• Over-Under Total Bet – Bet over or under the sportsbook’s line. We explain how to place this bet with easy examples, a video, and text explainer.
• Moneyline Bet – Whether it’s a 2-way or 3-way moneyline, we’ve got you covered. Moneylines are available for almost every major sport league, including football, basketball, baseball, hockey, soccer, tennis, and combat sports.
• Teaser Bet – A teaser is a modified parlay that lets you buy points to shift point spread and total lines in your favor. Our fun tutorial video and detailed text article explain how to place this bet.
• If Bet Win-Only – Sequence multiple bets together in an if-then sequence. Your next bet only sees action if the previous one wins. Ideal for bettors with small bankrolls.
• Futures Bet – We explain what a futures bet is, how it works, and when to bet on a future sporting event. Common futures bets include the winners of the Super Bowl, Final Four, Stanley Cup, World Series, and NBA Finals.
• Parlay Bet – Combine multiple selections into one bet that returns a huge payout if all your selections were correct. We explain how parlay bets work and provide common parlay payout tables.
• Progressive Parlay Bet – Also known as a “Close Call Parlay”, this parlay variant can win even if one or more of selections lose. Our article describes this bet in detail.
• Parlay Card Betting – Parlay cards are issued by major sportsbooks midweek, allowing bettors to make multiple point spread, total, and prop bet selections that can return big payouts. Not to be confused with an “off the board” parlay!
• Prop Bets – We explain what a prop bet is, how to place a prop bet, and provide an expansive list of sports leagues with plenty of props to bet on right now.